You can’t travel from Solitude to Markarth without running into some wild Forsworn, and you can consider yourself the luckiest person in Tamriel if you make it from Windhelm to Riften without incurring the wrath of a hungry dragon. Skyrim is in midst of a vicious civil war, the Dark Brotherhood is painting targets on people, and Solstheim is being enslaved by the treacherous Miraak. Suffice it to say, you’re going to be in combat. A lot.
While there are ways to spice up enemy encounters in Skyrim – like trying an unusual build or race, swapping to a different weapon or armor set, or changing the order in which you do the quests – eight years later we’re feeling pretty uninspired to whip out an iron sword and hack at that wounded frostbite spider in Bleak Falls Barrow.
Any way you spin it, the combat starts feeling tiresome and repetitive, particularly once you’re at a high level, completed the quests, have all the perks you want, and no longer have any reason to change your spells or gear.
Fear not; the Skyrim modding community has you covered. There are tons of (free) ways to shake up battles and encounters in Elder Scrolls V with mods, and here are some of our favorites:
1. Combat overhaul
If you don’t like anything about the way combat feels in Skyrim, the most obvious solution is to
play a different game get a mod that completely changes it. There are a number of combat overhaul mods, some of which implement new features like being able to parry when dual-wielding, giving enemies access to modded spells, or allowing for the chance that an enemy will be using an upgraded weapon. These 10 mods might be just what you’re looking for:
If you’re looking for a more controlled combat experience that puts you in charge of the ebb and flow of combat, you can also try Wildcat Combat by EnaiSiaion. This mod adds injuries, stagger, and more responsive AI, and lets you tweak the settings on the fly via an in-game mod menu. Take control of combat in Skryim, and let it play the way you want!
2. Harder enemies
One popular aspect of Wildcat Combat is that it makes survival harder all around. Enemies are more reactive, more aggressive, and generally more powerful. Wildcat Combat isn’t the only way to accomplish this (check out Combat Evolved by CrushBoss, Deadly Combat by Borgutt1337, or Duel by LogRaam), and the sentiment is the same: Instead of adding new enemies or more enemies, you’re simply making enemies more threatening and more challenging.
If you’re a fan of tougher games like Dark Souls or Witcher 3 these kinds of mods (plus simply raising the general difficulty in the base Settings menu of the game) are probably what you’re looking for.
3. New monsters
Fighting bandits, cave bears, and giants is fun, but we’ve been doing it for eight years. There’s a slew of free monster mods online, and adding some will add some much-needed freshness and excitement to your typical cave-clearing and everyday meanderings.
A lot of these community-made monsters are pretty impressive – some of them are even scary. Some of these mods can replace monster encounters, subbing in things like a wraith or a lich instead of a draugr deathlord, or a minotaur or cyclops instead of another bear. If you’re a fan of Witcher, you’ll love these fantasy-inspired monsters from MihailMods.
Dragon encounters are the roaming boss fights of Skyrim, but at the end of the day, it’s just a leveled frost or fire dragon 80% of the time. Check out Diverse Dragons by OpusGlass which adds dozens of new dragon types to the mix.
4. New weapons and armor
Combat in Skyrim is comprised of slinging spells and shouts, swinging weapons, and firing arrows. If you want to change that experience, literally change the weapons and spells at your disposal.
There are more mods in this category than any other; providing craftable staves, throwable knives, spears, and hatchets, even weapons inspired by Lord of the Rings. Our favorites are the Immersive Weapons and Armor series from Hothtrooper44 which adds hundreds of new armor variants and weapons that you can find and craft as you explore Skyrim. You’ll rarely find two bandits who look alike anymore, which makes for a much more visually fun experience.
5. New weapon enchantments
There’s some creativity involved when it comes to enchanting in the original Skyrim. We remember putting countless hours into figuring out the best pattern of elemental resistances and buffs into our final set of smithed armor, before cranking up the difficulty and diving back into fights.
Wintermyst by The Care Taker helps us relive that same enthusiastic sense of wonder we felt when we began crafting and enchanting in our first playthrough years ago. The mod adds over 100 completely new, unique, and clever enchantments that you can put on your weapons, armor, and accessories. Enchant a shield to disarm foes, stagger enemies when you jump, summon spectral predators to aid you in battle – there are tons of combinations you can play with, and entirely new builds you can make thanks to this mod alone.
6. Perk overhaul
Last but not least you can radically change combat by installing an overhaul to Skyrim’s RPG system. The original skill trees are decent, but a bit sparse when you’re going for multiple runs through the game.
Adding and modifying the perks you can obtain lets you envision and work towards a completely new character than you could back in 2011. Play a zany alchemist or a wayfaring druid with Perkus Maximus, a dimension-walking ranger or a Daedra-worshiping Dwemer hacker with Ordinator, or a necromantic warlord with Path of Sorcery.
If you’re looking to radically overhaul your Skyrim experience, a perk overhaul is a great place to start; not only will it add lots of new builds for combat – it can also change the game as a whole, encouraging you prioritize new perks, manage your survival differently, or even hold conversations with NPCs differently or start worshiping divines regularly for passive boosts.
We love Skyrim because by 2019 you can use mods to mold the game into whatever you want it to be.
Let us know how you’re planning to change combat in Skyrim, and stay tuned for more news on Elder Scrolls 6 as it’s made available!